Balducci’s Announces Partnership with Celebrity Chef Morou Ouattara

Notable DC Chef to launch new restaurant at former site of Balducci’s Alexandria restaurant; will team up with Balducci’s on cooking demonstrations, signature dishes.

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Bethesda, MD (PRWEB) June 14, 2006

Specialty food retailer Balducci’s Food Lover’s Market today announced a culinary partnership with Chef Morou Ouattara, formerly of Signatures Restaurant and Red Sage, both in Washington, DC. The local celebrity chef has signed a lease to open a restaurant at the site of Balducci’s former restaurant, The Blue Point Grill, in Old Town Alexandria. This will be the first restaurant owned and operated solely by Ouattara.

The restaurant, to be named Farrah Olivia by Morou- named for his 2-year old daughter- is slated to open by September, 2006. Located at 600 Franklin Street in downtown Alexandria, the space shares an entrance with Balducci’s market. The restaurant is 2500 square feet and can seat 66, with additional seating outside and covered parking. It also has a modern kitchen, which was of interest to Morou. His wife, Heather, will act as General Manager and Co-Owner of the restaurant.

As part of the lease agreement, Ouattara- better known as Morou- will create signature dishes which will be available in all Balducci’s prepared foods cases and will offer cooking demonstrations at Balducci’s locations in Alexandria and McLean, VA; Washington, DC and Bethesda, MD.

Ouattara is gaining notability as one of the most creative and talented chefs in the country. He won the local Iron Chef America competition last fall and was nominated Washington’s Chef of the Year in 2000, 2001 and 2005. He has earned rave reviews from The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times. He employs an “American with an Accent” approach to cuisine with dishes like Caramelized Vanilla Basted Lobster with Truffle Tapioca Risotto, Lamb Tandoori with Pistachio Rice, Cranberry Jelly, Nashi Pear Salad, Juniper Berry Essence and Mint-Candy Oil and Pan Roasted White Tuna with Creamed White Beans, Braised Baby Bok Choy, Smooth Foie Gras Cream and Crushed Wesa-Candy Oil.

“Morou is a world class talent, and we wish him great success with the opening of Farrah Olivia,” said Peter Krieger, Balducci’s Interim CEO, who worked with Ouattara on the lease agreement. “He already has a devoted following of Washingtonians through his work in DC, and we are thrilled for the opportunity to expand that following through his relationship with Balducci’s.”

Morou originally came to DC in 1988 from the Ivory Coast to pursue a degree in computer science. While going to school full time, he joined the opening staff of Francesco Ricchi’s l’Ricchi. His experience there fueled his interest to become a chef, and he continued to move up the kitchen line. Joining Mark Miller’s Red Sage in 1991, Morou was introduced to innovative ways of thinking about food, using a new range of ingredients and cooking methods to create unconventional flavor combinations. Recognizing a similar style from his childhood, Morou’s imagination with ingredients began to flourish. It was this experience that brought him to Signatures Restaurant, a restaurant owned by lobbyist Jack Abramoff and then handed to investors in the Da Vinci Group last summer. The restaurant closed in November. For more information, visit http://www.morou.com

Balducci’s is one of the largest specialty food companies in the country, with 10 stores and 4 restaurants, and a heritage that dates back to 1916. Formerly operating under the names Hay Day Country Farm Market and Sutton Place Gourmet and Balducci’s, the company was purchased in November 2003 by an investment group led by Bear Stearns Merchant Bank. The Balducci’s flagship store on 8th Avenue in Manhattan opened in December 2005. For more information on Balducci’s, visit http://www.balduccis.com.

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